On Aging: Success Measured. Banality Achieved.

Let's file this under “Banal and Obvious.”

Yesterday at Facebook, a guy I know, Jeremy Banas, posted a photo taken at what I took to be a local Costco store: A pile of copies of his new book, a history of beer in San Antonio, Texas. For a writer, it’s a big deal to make a book. To have the book at Costco is also a big deal. (Very, in fact.) 

 Photo courtesy of Jeremy Banas. And LOOk! Right next to star wars stuff! bonus!

Photo courtesy of Jeremy Banas. And LOOk! Right next to star wars stuff! bonus!

I posted a comment along the lines of Wow and congratulations. (See above. Costco. Piles of books. It's a good thing.) 

He replied with this:

Thanks Maureen! I hope my book is even half as successful as yours. Thanks for your advice of talking one chapter at a time.

And I replied: 

Jeez, I HOPE your book is more successful than mine, because mine was hardly successful. And yeah: One sentence, one paragraph, one chapter at at time.

Later, I thought: What a dumb response on my part. Totally stupid. Am I honestly, and at my age, measuring “success” in terms of money? That absurd! What a stupid, knee-jerk reaction.

So I returned to Jeremy’s FB page and wrote:

Was the book successful? It actually changed my life, in MANY MANY ways that I never expected when I started writing it. I just thought I was writing a book, you know? And instead... I got you and a zillion other fabulous people in my life. Smart, creative people. So in that sense? The book was a FANTASTIC success. Monetarily, zero. Life enhancement? A bajillion and counting.

It’s true. I earned little money from the book (a grand total of about $60,000 after taxes and agent’s commission). (1)

But I “earned” a life that is, literally, immeasurably more rich than had I not written the book. Because of it, I’ve met hundreds of smart, talented, creative people. Some have become friends. Almost all have inspired me. (There have been a couple of assholes in the mix.) Thanks to the book, I've been able to observe, with knowledge and understanding, the ongoing creation of a capitalist enterprise. My work as a historian has gained depth and character. 

 Not-so-random photo series 2016. He's seven now. THIS, friends, is "success" And yeah, my hair always looks that bad.

Not-so-random photo series 2016. He's seven now. THIS, friends, is "success" And yeah, my hair always looks that bad.

That ain't nuthin'. 

So. Success. Take care how you measure its meaning.

See? I TOLD you this would be banal beyond belief.
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1: I may have already mentioned this, but on my 2016 To Do list is start the process of regaining the rights to both the beer and meat books.  I know I won’t ever earn serious money from those books or any other writing. But as of now, they’re owned by a publisher who doesn’t even remember publishing them. God damnit, if someone's gonna ignore them, I'd rather it be e.